May PACE Meeting Minutes


President: Erica Reaves
Vice President: Kristin Allison
Secretary: Alice Speegle

The position of Treasurer is open. If you would like to be Treasurer let us know!

Please be thinking about options for PACE meetings, topics, times, days, speakers, etc. You can let us know through email or the website.


Amanda Reidenbaugh
Denise Staffilino
Kate Webster

Amanda: Sharing a copy of an article from The Washington Post titled Top 10 Skills Middle School Students Need to Thrive, and How Parents Can Help.

Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. Don’t be afraid to find out what your student loves and is passionate about. How can you get that to involve them in their school? Provide opportunities to practice reading and writing.

Organizational skills: Don’t be afraid to get in that backpack at any age. They need to know how to sew a button, teach self care. Organization, executive function wise – it helps to have a homework folder that is a different color than the rest. Have a place to record assignments (Google calendar, planner)  and help your student learn to chunk assignments. Don’t be afraid to allow your child to fail safely. Working hard means that you are using your gift, not that you aren’t gifted. Help to foster self-advocacy in your child. If they attend a high performing high school they have to be able to ask for help. Making good friend choices is in the article – working in teams and learning how to collaborate. You have to try different ways to find out how to take notes and mark text. Building a habit takes practice. At CGA flexible learning time has been a conundrum to help students figure out how to organize and chunk assignments. They want you to help them find that structure.

Kate: About ninth grade you can’t dump out the backpack! A lot of our gifted students can be highly successful without being organized, without studying, and when they aren’t able to succeed when they get to high school their identity can take a hit. Especially in high school when content becomes more abstract and topics may not be in an area of giftedness. Have the conversation with them about who they are who they want to be. It isn’t enough to say “you need to be organized”. You need to have conversations about what is important to them, what are the consequences and payoffs of their behavior. Having some skills to talk to resistant teens can come in really handy. You may find that your child is resistant to talking about it because their former strategies aren’t working any more. Find time and space to have a routine and talk about being organized and who they are and keeping those conversations open.

Getting your students active and taking time for self care, getting off screens, ride together in a car to have some one on one time. Whatever it is you can do together to loosen them up and talk is where you can have some genuine conversations about who they are and who they want to be and how to get there. Just when you think they don’t want to talk to you, that is when they want to talk about who they want to be.

Academics are definitely part of who they are and you want to find challenges for them – but ultimately the question is “what makes you happy”.

Denise: Thinking about how do you teach responsibility is that it is a lifelong thing that you develop and you are a role model. When they are in grade school you make connections to show how it is important. You show responsibility in your family unit and in your life. You can talk about real life experiences – like your job, and why that is important.

Kate: Yes, share what you are doing and why.

Denise: Transitions is an ongoing process. There are several different things you can do. You can visit the places they are looking at. Often gifted kids have a heightened sense and often have fear. You can think through the anxieties and work through those feelings to decide what you would do. You can buddy up with another friend.

Amanda: It is helpful to think of yourself as a coach. Be future focused. Identify the future and identify the steps you need to take to get there. Recognize the anxiety. If you made a bad choice it’s okay. You need to take accountability for it. You need to apologize if you feel it. And then you need to move on. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? You move on. Getting them to see school as a necessary step to where they want to be is so important.

Denise:  You as parents are transitioning as well. Looking at the whole picture what might be different is when children are in situations where they are really challenged for the first time. There is a honeymoon window, then there is a real transition time. They may not be getting everything right, but they learn they are smart because of their potential – not because they know everything. We tend to be reactionary band emotional so when suddenly they aren’t getting everything we start second guessing ourselves. If you don’t shed that insecurity your student might start to think they aren’t getting it. It is a great opportunity to talk about the social emotional too.

Amanda: Transitions are often difficult for parents. Your principal and teachers are invested in your child and care about them. They want to have the conversation.

Denise: Many kids identify themselves as smart because they “already know” – but they are gifted because of their potential. Schools like CGA and the district program are there to help students reach their potential and continue their learning.

Many students come and they are unfamiliar with failing. It helps to have them fail in a safe environment.

Kate: Some students take high school classes in grade school. Talk to someone safe about it and go to your child and again have the conversation about what they want and how to get there. Wherever you are you can be successful. It’s okay if you don’t have a 4.0. Having one now doesn’t mean you will be successful in college. There are so many different ways you can take on college and be successful.

Getting a 36 in Reading and a 29 in Math doesn’t mean you suck at math! When kids get older different gifts get recognized. They might be recognized for leadership, which can mean being passionate and involved – not just student body president. Gifted kids may not get the recognition they are used to.

Sometimes in high school and college students go through this phase where you go through a phase where you feel like you can’t do it. Then the students figure out what is expected in the class. Then they figure out what is needed. Gifted kids might need tutors. They might advocate for help or for challenge. They can ask to tweak projects to make it more relevant for them. A lot of time teachers are open to that.

Erica: Remember to praise their efforts – not just the wins. Everyone is not going to love you. You will have coworkers you don’t really like. You will have your dream job and not like your boss.

You have to watch because there may be subjects they are not successful in (like gym) and then you have a crisis moment.

Amanda: Harvard did a great study that says it doesn’t matter what you think about your kid. It matters what they think you think.

Kate: You might think you are reinforcing your child by saying a lot of positive things but they aren’t getting the message. We would problem solve in high school. With someone you don’t like you have to find something they can offer you. Fortunately counsellors can tell some of the success stories about teachers kids are having difficulties with.

If you can reinforce being optimistic with your child. Unfortunately we see more and more depression in our schools. For all of our kids we need to reinforce being optimistic. Anxiety is high. We need to help them reframe how they are thinking.

If you can help students to frame things as permanent versus temporary. What can we do to move on? Is it pervasive or specific? You are not “always going to be bad at math”. Personal versus impersonal – where is the locus of control? Is that teacher being mean to you or does he treat everybody like that? You have to help them reframe, talk out loud as you are fulfilling your responsibilities. Our gifted kids are really good at understanding that – and they are good at twisting that. Help them untwist it.

Article The Social and Emotional Transition to Middle School

Denise: Chipwood has a book called that helps us reframe our children and recognize that their age and developmental stage may be different.

Personalities also play into all of this. You know your child and his or her strengths and insecurities.

Amanda: If you are trying to find out what makes your child tick (especially high schoolers) and you ask them and they say “I don’t know” ask them “if you knew, what would you say?”

Kate: Social Emotional issues are so heightened during transitions. If you can look for a few anchors with your child, such as starting some routines while your child is still willing. Another thing is looking for an activity outside of school, dance, choir, club sports, math league. Summer programs aren’t year round but some kids form relationships by going the same place each summer. Especially in CCS where our kids jump around it is important to make anchor friends outside of our schools. They can also learn to work hard and fail at something they are passionate about and have that social anchor.

Erica: I do a lot of role playing with my child to make sure she know how to react when situations come up.

Denise: You give them the language to deal with difficult situations.

Amanda: You teach your children about the impact of language. Reputation is important. Words can impact reputation. If they say things people may have to take it seriously.

Kate: Keep talking about it. They keep changing and entering new social circles. You have to go back and address it over and over. Keep making it relevant.

Amanda: Check the backpack. Check the social media. Colleges are watching. They do make decisions because of it.

It is scary that anyone can access our students on social media apps.

Erica: If you don’t get them by 8 years old someone else will. The parent is their first teacher. Everything should be on the table. As far as social media we need to have that conversation about sexting 10,000 times.

We can’t be responsible for every decision they make but we can help them find the answers. Walk away.

Kate: Especially as your kids get older make sure that as the information becomes more complicated and you have so many more things to juggle that your email is updated with the office, you are coming to face to face meetings, and reading the emails. Go to parent teacher conferences, even if your kid is getting straight a’s. Schedule a tour for college, sit in on a class, try to go when things are in session. Then you have some frame of reference when you are talking with your students.

Be really involved in that and demand a response.

You can go in and talk with teachers even if your kid is being successful. Maybe they stay up all night to make A’s and you need to talk about it.